Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Church Bulletin Article for Dec 1st, 2013 - "Commitments"

Living Lessons:  Sunday, December 1st, 2013  

Commitment, that has been the word of the week before me.  Some of the following questions have recently been asked by myself or others:  “How committed are we to helping in tornado cleanup?”  “How committed are we to the homeschool cooperative and education?”  “How committed are we to the our church family and seeing it grow?”  “How committed are we to following Christ?” “Are we over committed?” “Are we fulfilling our commitments?”

Commitment, it’s an idea that can develop deep trusting relational bonds between two human beings.   

Commitment, it’s a concept that can create deep wounds and divisions in a group. 

Today, I was inspired with the thought of a sermon or series, “From Jephthah to Jesus: Commitment in the Bible.”  Jephthah was so determined to fulfill his vow before the Lord that he would sacrifice his own family’s and descendants’ well-being.  This story of faithful commitment lands him in the great Hebrews 11:32 "Hall of Faith" passage in the midst of Bible greats like Gideon, Barak, Samson, David, and the prophets.  Wow, that is commitment!

Jesus as well went so far as to say, “You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.” He also stated, “Let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’, anything beyond these is of evil.” (from Matthew 5:33-37)  What another great verse encouraging commitment!

If you or I make a commitment, we should endeavor to get it done.  It’s something many of us need to work on.  This holiday season, in the midst of busy times and many commitments, please endeavor to keep your vows.  Most importantly, remember to keep the vows you once made to your Lord and to His bride, the Church.  May your holidays be blessed with fulfilling commitments. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Perks of the Position: Bulletin Article for Sunday 11-17-13

Perks of the Position:  Some positions get fancy new trucks.  Some positions entail expensive golf outings.  Some positions get insurance packages that rival our president.  The position I currently hold has perks that are out of this world!  Even though many of the perks I enjoy are heavenly in nature, there are some that I am blessed with right now!
Photo I took of Emma in the rear view mirror of a bus in Honduras.
This week I was blessed with the opportunity to write another reference letter.  I’ve written several for members and for those related to our members in my last two years serving in Washington.  Whether it is a college scholarship, job application, or character witness, I enjoy writing reference letters!  Why?  It’s because they are positive, honest, and personal.    

Reference letters are an opportunity for me to open up to a board of complete strangers about people I am proud of.  They are chances for me to share the great things that people are doing as a part of God’s kingdom.  They are meaningful moments for me to show admiration for the blessings of God through people around me.  Since I endeavor to be completely honest in my writings, reference letters are an opportunity to deeply  examine others lives and rejoice at the goodness found.  David does the very same thing. 

Since I know, O my God, that You examine the heart and rejoice in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You. – 1 Chronicles 29:17

David basically wrote a reference letter to God about the people.  If Jesus were to write a reference letter for you today, what would it say?  Let's endeavor to give Him great things about our faith to share with our Father. 

Thank you Emma for your willingness to be examined and let me see your uprightness.  With integrity and rejoicing I can offer my observations before God!   

Friday, November 8, 2013

Church Bulletin Article for 11/10/2013 "Give Respect, Give Honor"

Living Lessons:  November 10th, 2013  

Give Respect, Give Honor

“I’m almost pacifist.”  I’ve said these words for years.  Whether handling interpersonal conflict or handling large international national wars, I think the Way of the Christ is resolving conflict through peaceful means.  I think so many times our country, our lawmakers, our police, and even our church members, try to resolve conflict in angry outbursts and violence that creates more problems than it solves.  I think at times we have forgotten our Savior’s call. 

With that mindset, you might think that I practice like a portion of my pacifist friends who don’t honor national holidays such as Veterans Day or Memorial Day.  You might think wrong.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our veterans of the armed services for their devotion and sacrifice for my country, my family, and myself.  This Veterans Day I honor you Veterans and I appreciate you.  You have helped to preserve the freedom I have to pray in public. You have helped secure our borders so that my family hasn’t been victim of a terrorist acts.  You have acted as representatives of our country abroad.  And you’ve done all this without having the six figure or more pay of some of our nation’s leaders.  

I may disagree with the methods used, but I can recognize a sincere heart that has motivated our Veterans  to serve in the armed services.  In particular I want to take this moment to honor Heath and Jarrod Robinson who are now serving us, now protecting us, and now sacrificing for us.  I respect their heart and honor their commitment.  Why would I do such a thing?  Check out the following verse.

Paul tells the believers in Rome in the 13th chapter and 7th verse of his letter, "Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." 

If Paul can tell Jewish Christians to be honorable and respectful of the leaders of Rome, I think we can do it for our Veterans.  Who can you honor today?  Who can you give your respect to today?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Living Lesson: Preparing for the Storms - Church Bulletin Article for Nov 3rd, 2013

Preparing for Storms:  As many of you know, a few weeks ago we had a significant amount of water come into our downstairs den and laundry room during a heavy rainstorm. After getting the flow of water stopped and sopped up, it became apparent that we were going to need to do a little damage control, such as drying out the carpet. To pull up the carpet, we had to remove the wood paneling that was resting on top of the carpet edges. Guess what we found when we peeked under the surface? Damaged drywall and rotting 2"x4"s – not what you want to see in your walls.

What began as a small project has turned into nearly a complete gutting of a room and an investigation into the water flow around and under the house. It appears that mistakes made 30 years ago in regards to the land grading may have caused water to seep into the house for decades. Combine those mistakes with small maintenance issues like improper guttering and you have a real problem.  When the sun’s shining, the problems aren’t noticeable, but when the storms come, the damage becomes evident.

It’s made me think about how we function as believers. We’ve got to be diligent about laying proper spiritual foundations in our lives AND maintaining ourselves spiritually.  If we don’t, it’s easy for sin to seep into our lives and do a lot of damage. We might appear “fine” on the surface, but that damage will be seen and felt when the storms of life come.

Now it’s time to ask ourselves about our foundation and our maintenance.  Have we laid the proper foundations of believing, confessing, repenting, and being baptized?  Are we continuing good maintenance practices with personal Bible study, group Bible study, regular prayer, regular communion, tithing, and serving the sick and broken-hearted?  Remember, without good foundation and maintenance, the storms will cause problems. 

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”- Matt 7: 24-27